Buddhism has traditionally focused on epistemological and psychological causes of suffering in individuals: deluded perception, greed, and ill will. Buddhist compassionate action seeks to free people from those inner causes of suffering, through contemplative, ritual, and ethical practices. Christian liberation theology focuses on oppressive social systems as main causes of suffering, and on socio-historical analysis and social activism to empower people to liberate themselves from those systems. Effective epistemological analysis and contemplative practice (Buddhism's focus) is necessary to address the first cause of suffering: deluded misperception and reaction, since social analysis alone does not remove the pervasive misperception that some persons matter more than others, an unconscious assumption that distorts everyone's attempt to build better social systems. Contemplative practices that deconstruct that delusive tendency also empower greater discernment, compassion, and creative responsiveness for effective social action. On the other hand, social analysis (as in Christian liberation theology) is essential to address the second kind of cause of suffering, oppressive social structures, which, if not confronted, promulgate systemic harms while socially incorporating individuals into the first cause of suffering: delusion, greed, and ill will. This article argues that Buddhist and Christian liberation epistemologies each have blind spots that are revealed and corrected by learning from the other.


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pp. 241-255
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